Friday, 21 March 2008

Morning Roundup

As sad as the Beej's recent little setback makes me, one must keep some perspective. Coming into Spring Training I think most of us were expecting a May return, but a positive first outing and some belly fire quotes from the man himself allowed us to convince ourselves that he could conceivably be ready to rock at the end of this month. I guess we just collectively love the guy so much we got a bit ahead of ourselves.

JP's comments are all over the shop:

"If we have him for six months, great," Ricciardi said. "If we have him for five months, great. Four months, whatever we have him for, we're going to make sure we have him right. We can't have him with us right now if he pitches on Monday and we have to wait until Saturday to use him again.

"He knows that and he understands that. Another month maybe [until he's completely healthy]? Or a couple weeks? I don't know. We'll see how it goes."

So, we're talking 1-2 months of rehab? Grand... but, still, a blow we can sustain.

Opening Day, especially being there in person, is already better than Christmas, New Year's Eve and your birthday all wrapped up into one, but this year's edition just got that much better. Robbie Alomar is going to be elevated to Toronto's Level of Excellence in a pre-game ceremony and has indicated that should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he'll go in as a Blue Jay. Catch da taste! And they were already planning to wear the powder blues!

You might be thinking, "Robbie had a great career, but is he a Hall of Famer?" My answer to you is a solid "maybe, probably yes." His most similar batter list at includes:
  1. Barry Larkin (877)
  2. Lou Whitaker (858)
  3. Frankie Frisch (855) *
  4. Julio Franco (850)
  5. Ryne Sandberg (835) *
  6. Alan Trammell (833)
  7. Joe Morgan (830) *
  8. Ted Simmons (822)
  9. Charlie Gehringer (822) *
  10. Ivan Rodriguez (817)
* denotes HoFer

Larkin is on his way in, Whitaker gets unfairly overlooked, but yes, this is a very strong group for him to be lumped in with. Pudge? He's played one career game at second, so that's how he snuck his way onto the list. Robbie will probably be the first Jay in the Hall. Mark it down, Donnie.

As a nod to those of you who value prospect lists, enjoy this profile of Brett Cecil, who's probably the top pitching prospect in the organization. Keith Law is very high on the dude and other non-hacks see him flying through the system in record time. Blair notes that "Tony LaCava, the Blue Jays assistant general manager, says it's not out of the question that Cecil could have made the Majors this year - as a reliever." Wilner describes his debut yesterday as "terrific":

And Cecil - wow. I thought his first inning was better than his second, but he and Brad Arnsberg disagreed. Talking to him after the game, he was calm and collected, and said that he was worried before the game that he’d be nervous and scared when he got out there, especially since he was facing his childhood favourites, the Yankees, who won their last World Series title when he was 14. But he said that he felt as though he belonged, that he wasn’t nervous or scared, just excited. The kid’s make-up is off the charts (check out how he was moving right-handed hitters off the plate - gorgeous), and his stuff is pretty good, too. He might even make it all the way up before this year is out.

Now, I still think it's Purcey we'll need to step up should we require some early, long-term minor league help in the rotation, but it's hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm for another young southpaw.

The team previews over at Batter's Box at just fantastic in case you hadn't heard. The most recent one on the Brewers notes that for them, catching has been a problem akin to our revolving door at shortstop. We have lots of catching depth in the system. They have surplus starters by the boatload. We could probably use some starting depth. JP and Brewers GM Doug Melvin (who is Canadian) have a positive working relationship. It's just a matter of time before the trade talk starts up. You heard it here first.

Concerning a divisional rival now... Jerry Crasnick at conceeds that the O's are going to be train-wreck bad in 2008, but not so bad that O's fans should all go jumping off the nearest bridge. And the reason for that is largely because of stud OF prospect Adam Jones, acquired (with others) in the Erik Bedard deal.

Still, one shouldn't skip past the tough slog ahead quite yet. This is Crasnick's projected O's lineup this year:

Brian Roberts, 2B (same old wholesome onfield goodness despite Mitchell Report accustations)
Melvin Mora, 3B (crappy, old, surly)
Nick Markakis, RF (star in the making)
Aubrey Huff, DH (scum of the earth)
Luke Scott, LF (a bit of pop, isn't going to make you forget Jeff Connine, though)
Ramon Hernandez, C (should rebound a bit)
Kevin Millar, 1B (oh man...)
Adam Jones, CF (hot prospect, but untested)
Luis Hernandez, SS (say what, now?)

Expect plenty of empty seats at Camden Yards this year.


* On the minor league starting depth front, recently-released ex-Nats ace John Patterson is probably a higher reward reclamation project than most of the Hail Mary retreads you read about; the former Expo was stellar in 2005 and an injury-shortened 2006, but has yet to regain the velocity he lost after forearm surgery.

* Second verse, same as the first: Brewers lefty Chris Capuano has been bandied about in trade rumours since his club has an embarassment of starting depth (though not necessarily quality, mind). The snag: he has elbow troubles that will probably keep him out of action past Opening Day. It's been a nagging thing for him and diminshes his trade value, though suitors haven't exactly been banging down Doug Melvin's door. He's a glass half empty/full kind of guy: there's both positive and negative in his career numbers. The computer models at fangraphs project him at a league average ERA over 150+ innings this year, which ain't not that bad...

-- Johnny Was

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